A couple of years ago I took a two week course on spiritual midwifery with Uva Meiner, a midwife from Costa Rica. She gave the workshop at my mother’s retreat center, Heartroot Farm, in the Eastern townships of Quebec. Though my mother also practices midwifery, this was the first time I spent a concentrated amount of time delving in to the details of birthing with a group of women.
Over the two weeks many people went in to detail about their own birthing experiences. I was shocked to find how many had had traumatic experiences, how many had felt their power was taken away from them in the birthing room, how many felt ill-prepared and misinformed previous to giving birth.
Many women also recounted the conditions of their own births. It was amazing to see the direct links that could be drawn between the circumstances of our births and how we are in the world and in our relationships.
Preparing the Way
“So, where does the revolution come in?” you may be wondering. Birth and revolution may not seem the most obvious link for some, especially those of us who haven’t had the experience of creating life. Ask most mothers and they’ll probably tell you birth is one of the most revolutionary things you can experience in life.
Aside from the actual act of giving birth as a transformative “rite of passage” for mothers, there are more and more people focusing on birth as a pivotal point in deciding what foot we start our on in life. Before hashing out the ways in which kids can be “raised for revolution” there’s a lot to be said for the whole gestation period and preparing the home environment. This includes doing all the internal preparation. Clearing your body of learned patterns and memories and habits that no longer serve you.
Our society is slowly becoming aware of the positive effects of breastfeeding, for example, which was largely discouraged in the past. Michel Odent, among others, has written extensively about the way birthing and breastfeeding practices have affected entire generations ways of being in the world. In one of many recent conversations on the topic, a friend of mine who works with the La Leche League spoke to me about studies showing how being breastfed and held as a child effects not only IQ and general resilience, but even our ability to experience empathy!
We often talk about babies absorbing the emotional states of their mothers while in the belly. High levels of anxiety, stress, or negative emotions can have a serious impact on a child’s development. This is of course also true once the child is born. For some reason there’s not as much emphasis on that transitional state of birth. When you think about all the turning points in your life and how crucial they are to your evolution as a person, why would birth be any different?
All of a sudden we go from being connected solely to our mothers to having this intense opening into an entire world of possible connections! This moment is the opportunity of a lifetime in terms of influencing another being (your, or someone else’s, newborn) to see the world as a warm and loving place! What if women felt empowered and safe to follow their bodies needs and children were welcomed into a positive, emotionally sound, fear-free environment? How is making that the status quo anything less than revolutionary?
Even if someone wants to have a hospital birth rather than a home birth, there is a lot of value to taking conscious steps to prepare the way. I can’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but if you are contemplating giving birth I highly recommend finding someone who can accompany you in that process. There is plenty that can be done even before conception! All this is only the beginning on the journey of stewarding a generation with a healthy connection to the rest of the world…